Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo Delivers Inaugural Lecture

Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Professor in Coastal Processes in the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences and Director, Institute of Environment and Sanitation (IESS), University of Ghana, has advocated the preservation of resources within the ocean and coastal zone for the future generation. 

He made this remark at his inaugural lecture on the topic: The Continuous Struggle for Space-Coastal Erosion in Ghana. 

Prof. Appeaning Addo begun his lecture by noting the timeliness of the selected topic in dealing with coastal challenges of the country. “The title is very timely as there is the need to identify the importance of space in the coastal zone and how the struggle for the space is causing havoc in that zone’’, he stated.

Presenting the various erosion challenges of Ghana’s coast, the changing dynamics of the coastal zone, the drivers of change in the coastal zone and the impact of these changes in the coastal zone among other things, Prof. Appeaning noted that the coastal zones have been shaped in the past by the dynamic interaction of marine, terrestrial and atmospheric processes. Yet, in recent times, extreme climatic events, sea-level rise and intense human activities are increasing the coastal system’s vulnerability, making it susceptible to coastal hazards.  He emphasized that “We need to appreciate that we are responsible for protecting our coastal environment and safeguarding the continuous use of the coastal space”, he added. 

Prof. Appeaning also indicated that although variations in the sea level are natural responses to climate change, geodetic variations, movement of the seafloor, and other earth processes, human actions such as drainage of wetlands and withdrawal of ground water may also contribute to the rise in sea levels through coastal land subsidence.

He noted that the increasing human development and encroachment on the strip of land that separates human activities from shoreline’s dynamic processes is denying the shoreline the much needed space for it to naturally evolve. “The coastal zone is increasingly becoming overcrowded with various sectors of the economy looking for space, not only for food and resource but for several other activities including tourism, leisure, transport, telecommunication, upper culture and other renewable energies which require adequate space with conducive environmental conditions for their operations”, he stated.

Prof. Appeaning added that the continuous struggle for space between humans and the shoreline disturbs the equilibrium state of the coastal environment and accelerates changes in the coastal zones, which may result in terrible consequences with environmental and economic Implications.

Prof. Appeaning Addo

Drawing attention to available statistics, he explained that 2.3 billion people live within hundred kilometres of a coastal zone. Approximately 60% of the world’s megacities are found in the coastal zones and in the West African sub-regions, thus, the coastal zone generates 56% of the region’s domestic product and it is home to about 31% of West Africa’s population, which could exceed 70 million by 2050. “Ghana’s coastal zone covers only about seven per cent of the total land, but it is occupied by over one-third of the population and home to over 70% of our industries”, he added.

Expressing concern for the twenty-five coastal erosion hot spots that have been identified along the coast of Ghana as eroding at varying rates and intensifying due to the significant geomorphological variability, he opined that sustainably managing coastal erosion is progressively becoming a huge challenge in Ghana. “Ghana has resorted to ‘fighting’ coastal erosion instead of managing it – a war we may never win”, he stated. He declared that hard engineering approach fights coastal erosion instead of managing it, because it seeks to resist the natural coastal system dynamics instead of enhancing its resilience. 

Prof. Appeaning concluded his lecture by acknowledging that no winner has emerged yet for the continuous struggle for coastal space. Stressing that coastal erosion is a major issue that needs to be addressed holistically, he advocated the need to explore new coastal erosion approaches such as nature base and hybrid technologies.

Prof. Appeaning recommended the need to reduce reliance on hard engineering approaches, adopt coastal erosion management approaches that are all inclusive, formulate a pro-active erosion policy, ensure integrated coastal erosion management, identify vulnerable locations for natural or hybrid infrastructure, enhance the restoration of coastal ecosystems and to increase funding for coastal processes research and pro-active monitoring scheme for the detection of change. 

A group photo after the lecture

In her closing remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, who chaired the lecture, congratulated Prof. Appeaning on his brilliant delivery. Identifying that the challenges of the coastal zones as addressed by Prof. Appeaning were regional, national and global, she advised that the coastal zones be managed in such a way that they are beneficial to the nation now and preserved for generations yet unborn.

Earlier, in her opening remarks, the Registrar, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, welcomed the audience and said, “inaugural lectures form an essential component of a university’s programme for an academic year and every academic who rises to the rank of a Professor in his or her career in the University of Ghana is expected to deliver an inaugural lecture”. Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah also stated that inaugural lectures offered the University an opportunity to recognize and showcase the achievements of faculty as they share their research with colleagues within and outside the University. 

A number of presentations were made by friends, family and members of the University community to celebrate the achievements of Prof. Appeaning. Other presentations were also made by members of his church and secondary school association.

The Ghana Dance Ensemble also graced the occasion with cultural performances as well as seperewa appellation to herald the lecturer.

As a prelude to the Inaugural Lecture, the University of Ghana Library System (UGLS) organised a week-long exhibition of Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo’s academic publications at the Balme Library.  

Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo speaking at the opening of an exhibition of his scholarly works

The inaugural lecture was attended by the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Most Rev. Dr. Paul Kwabena Boafo; Honourable Kwabena Amankwah Asiamah , MP for Fanteakwa North Constituency, Eastern Region; Rev. Dr. William Quaye, Minister, Presby Church, Calvary Congregation, Haatso; Rev. Solomon Nii Mensah Adjei, Ga, Presbytery Clerk; Dr. Samuel Ato Andam-Akorful, Department of Geomatic Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and Dr. Henry Kwabena Kokofu, Chief Executive Officer, Environmental Protection Agency.

Nana Asihene from the Begoro Royal Family and members of the University Community were also present for the inaugural lecture.


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